Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to survive getting caught in freak snowstorm on a hike

Getting stranded in a snowstorm means at best you’ll only have days to live unless soon rescued. Hypothermia, frostbite, lack of water due to it freezing and the inability to forage for food or to find tinder and branches to make a fire all make survival extremely difficult.

If you’ve planned your trip correctly, you shouldn’t be in the wilds when a snowstorm is forecast. Mountain weather is highly changeable, however, and it’s quite possible in late spring and early autumn for one to surprise you at a high elevation. As soon as you see any signs of clouding over, feel a significant drop in temperature, or notice high winds or snowflakes, immediately descend to a lower elevation.

If walking is no longer viable – snow can hide the trail and bring visibility to zero – immediately construct a shelter to diminish the effect of wind and wet snow. Huddle together for warmth. Do not eat snow as it will lower your core body temperature. Immediately call for help, and don’t send anyone for help as they easily can get lost in the snowstorm.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.